Last year, we saw the VPL-VW1000ES, Sony’s very expensive and up-till-recently flagship 4K home theater projector. Today, the company has announced the VPL-VW500ES, which is due to arrive in Singapore in November.
First things first. Like the VW1000ES, the VW500ES is a 4K projector that uses Sony’s SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) panels. As you may have already guessed from its model number, it’s pitched as a more affordable 4K projector than the now-discontinued VW1000ES and its successor, the VW1100ES (due January 2014). But just how much more affordable is it? Well, the VW500ES is priced at S$13,999, about half the price of the VW1000ES/VW1100ES.
Besides its DCI-based 4,096 x 2,160-pixel resolution, the VW500ES’ dual HDMI ports support the HDMI 2.0 spec, which means it can handle 4K content at 50/60p (both 3,840 x 2,160 and 4,096 x 2,160). Color remains at 8-bit though, which is understandable, since there’s no 10-bit or 12-bit content or source yet.
Like all other 4K projectors and TVs, the VW500ES does 4K upscaling for 1080p content, through its Super Resolution 4K Reality Creation upscaler. A secret sauce in the VW500ES and VW1100ES is a ‘Mastered in 4K’ database that the projectors will draw upon when upscaling Mastered for 4K Blu-ray titles. These are basically 1080p Blu-ray releases that are remastered from their 4K master sources at a higher bitrate. While other brands of 4K projectors and TVs can still play these Mastered for 4K titles and enjoy benefits like an expanded color range, Sony is saying that its 4K projectors are able to go one-up by using the built-in filter to upscale the 1080p content to as close as possible to its 4K master.
(We’ve also checked with Sony regarding upgrade options for existing VW1000ES owners. According to Sony, a hardware upgrade is possible, and this will bring HDMI 2.0 compatibility and the aforementioned Mastered in 4K database to the VW1000ES. This will likely happen in 1Q next year, and the upgrade will cost “a few thousand dollars”, since it involves a board change. More details regarding this upgrade for the Singapore market will be made at a later time.)
Now, back to the VW500ES. The projector also sports a 1,700 ANSI lumens of brightness, 200,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio with an advanced iris, and Sony’s Triluminos display tech. Equipped with a 2.06 motorized zoom lens, it has a wide lens shift range of up to 85% vertically and 31% horizontally, and a built-in RF transmitter that syncs with any RF 3D glasses. Furthermore, by integrating a color sensor, the VW500ES is able to perform auto color calibration.